Tom Nielson, Louisville Bats Baseball Club, receives the Dick Ericson Award
Nielson has been cited by his peers as someone who has had a great influence on the lives of others in this profession. Several of the criteria of this award focus on personnel management and being open to the skills and the abilities of their staff members. During Nielson’s 25-year career, no fewer than seven of his assistants have gone on to high-level positions, managing large and complex field operations. He has served on many committees for STMA and is a true ambassador for the industry. Nielson has excellent technical skills and is a master at converting a baseball field into a soccer pitch up to 19 times per year. He has worked in football, too, and is no stranger to receiving a Founders Award, having received one in 2011.
Nielson was presented the award by the 2015 winner, Michael Buras, CSFM, Longwood Cricket Club, and founder Dick Ericson — the award’s namesake.
Bruce Suddeth, University of South Carolina-Upstate, receives the George Toma “Golden Rake” Award
The Toma is known as the “and then some” award, because this honor goes to an individual who goes above and beyond what is required. Sticking true to this motto, Suddeth was a founding member of the South Carolina Chapter and has volunteered hundreds of hours to insure its success, as well as inspired others to get involved in the chapter. Known as the “man behind the scenes” local members give him credit for all the goals the chapter has accomplished including the development and execution of a very successful annual conference. One letter of support states that without Suddeth’s vision, dedication and leadership, the S. C. STMA chapter would not exist today.
Suddeth was presented the award by the 2015 winner, Ben Polimer, Town of Weston, and founder George Toma, one of the two living founders of STMA.
Jason Kruse, Ph.D., University of Florida. receives the Dr. William H. Daniel Award
Kruse has the responsibilities of teaching core courses for the Plant Science degree program and conducting research. He serves as the academic advisor for undergraduate students, is an advisor to the turf club and mentors graduate students as they complete their programs to join the industry. His research is focused on answering the question about the inputs required to maintain a healthy turfgrass system under a variety of conditions. He has also has had an impact outside of the U.S., working on projects in the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. An associate professor, he serves as the Undergraduate Coordinator for the Environmental Horticulture Department for the University.
Kruse was presented the award by the 2015 Daniel award winner, Mary Owen, University of Massachusetts.
STMA’s highest honor, the Harry C. Gill Award, was awarded posthumously to Darian Daily, Cincinnati Bengals
Harry “Pops” Gill, as one of our four original founders, exemplified this commitment by ensuring a still-young STMA would grow successfully as an organization for the betterment of all sports turf managers. Daily exemplified Harry’s commitment. This is the first time STMA has given a Founders Award posthumously. Few people have had an impact on the profession like Darian Daily. He was generous with his time, open with sharing ideas and was a true professional. He was dedicated to his job at the Bengals, to his chapter, to the STMA, and above all to his family. His memory will live on in all the things he touched — in so many articles, presentations, informational resources and most significantly, in people.
Daily passed away unexpectedly in August 2016. He was very active in STMA, previously serving on its Board of Directors and numerous committees.
Last year’s winner, Dr. Mike Goatley, Virginia Tech University, presented the award, and the entire membership accepted it on Daily’s behalf with a toast. Attendees were invited to raise their glasses and say, “cheers” — the typical way that Daily signed his emails and ended conversations — to honor all that Daily did for the industry.